In the past two months, comedian Pete Davidson has opened up about his struggles with depression. Some have criticized him for using his fame to draw attention to himself and insinuate that mental health is a personal issue he has overcome.
Yet, while Davidson’s comments may be hurtful or triggering for some people suffering from mental health disorders, they also represent the need for more dialogue about this often-ignored topic to shift our culture from fear and silence to one of empathy and understanding.
In a recent interview on the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron, Davidson makes several deeply personal revelations that have struck a chord with many people suffering from mental health disorders. Davidson’s depression and suicide jokes have not gone down well with some mental health activists, but others have made the point that he is not alone in using humor to cope with his problems. At the same time, Davidson’s quips about firing a gun inside one of his therapist’s offices also seem cruelly hypocritical. And he has been mocked for joking about his “depression beard,” which he let grow out, joking that it was an attempt to look like Kurt Cobain. In reality, this was anything but funny: people with depression should not be encouraged to express their pain through physical self-harm.
Davidson has talked a lot about reaching out to friends who will listen and tell him if they feel like he might be suicidal. He called it his “trigger warning.” He said, “And I think that died out. And I don’t care about that anymore. If people ever feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to, they should just call me. I’m here for you, man. And it feels good to be the first one to say something.”
Peter Davidson’s talks are very inspiring and encouraging, but I felt he went a little too far in making things seem normal and easy when they are not. For example, he says he’s been in therapy for eight years, and he’s “working on it.” He also says that everyone should go to therapy because it’s essential. He talks about how it can help you and how it is “essential.” It doesn’t make you feel like you have to go if you don’t want to, but makes you feel like, why wouldn’t you want to go. Peter Davidson makes therapy seem easy and normal, but it didn’t mean it was easy for so many years.